I WROTE yesterday about Tony Abbott’s cavalier attitude to the sacrifice of an Australian fighting person and the scatological commentary he shared with genuine military types. Well, I have been thinking more on these two points and it seems to me that the incident provides a profound example of two grave deficiencies in the character of the Coalition’s current el supremo.
The first is that he is fixated on excrement. Katherine Murphy writes of the Opposition leader’s potty mouth tendencies in The Age, which no other paper notices and which gives us one more reason to celebrate the best news and commentary source in this country. It is “shit this” and “shit that” with Tony Abbott and we can only wonder why the infantile fascination with poo exerts such a strong influence on his words and thinking. One possible explanation – a supremely obvious one, actually – is his Jesuit training.
Abbott was raised and suckled at the breast of the Catholic church – ultra-religious home, all-boys school, “manly” hobbies like surf lifesaving, boxing and country fire fighting, a stint in the seminary and then into conservative politics, where female participants can only get ahead by culturally “de-gendering” themselves. If you want an example, look no further than Julie Bishop, whose very chromosones must be screaming in protest at the XY template she has had to jam her XXs into. No real woman could sport that laser stare, which is the same look you see on construction workers mentally undressing every woman who passes by.
There is nothing wrong with what Victorian medicos used to call "inversioon", but Julie Bishop does not fit naturally into that category – that her “I can see you in your underwear” glare which so unsettles female members of the government has become a fixture of her political repertoire says it all. In some sort of sick, parody of maleness, she intimidates by means of the oppressive eye.
Abbott’s issues would seem to be more ingrained, deeply steeped in his personal narrative. Where Bishop has adopted maleness, Abbott has been its exploitive victim. Think here of the endless scandals that surround the church and weigh the probabilities that, like so many hundreds of thousands of young Australian men, he was at one time sexually abused by a priest, probably many priests. Damn the coy language! Let’s call sexual abuse what it really is: sodomy.
I think that explains quite a lot about the fascination with shit. In the eyes of a young, exploited boy, the traces of his own post-coital excrement on clerical abusers’ pudenda were the confronting evidence of his own weakness, his powerless and, as the juvenile “bottom” in those boarding school buggary sessions, his limp impotence. His needs, his right to sexual fulfillment, were ignored; it was the abusers’ orgasmic imperatives that were satisfied. And it was Abbott who carried that legacy forward into his political life.
When Abbott says “shit” it is not just a dirty word, it is a manifestation of the excretory stains that were forcibly imprinted on his character as a child. So, too, the enthusiasm for boxing. Like the flagellants his creed reveres, he mistakenly adopts pain as the path to redemption.
Which brings us to the second great character flaw. Just as Abbott was victimized, so he now attempts to victimize others – one of the very first things any of us who have studied psychology come to know and understand. Every utterance of “shit” is nothing more nor less than a pathetic attempt to share that shame, to project it onto a wider audience and thereby dilute its psychological toxidity.
Think about it and think, too, of Katherine Murphy’s insight in picking up on this hallmark of a suppressed, self-hating homosexual. There is more, much more than male parts jammed into those appalling Speedos. There is guilt, fury, and a silence more profound and far deeper than those excruciating 24 seconds of silence that the helpless bully obliged Mark Riley and Channel 7 viewers to endure.
While we can -- indeed, must -- detest Tony Abbott, anyone imbued with a concern for justice and empathy must also feel deeply sorry for him.